Sunday, May 2, 2010

Souvenirs of Alsace

It's personal

What happens when two ideas of vacation collide?

I like the beach and lolling in the sun. Since we were going to Munster, I thought it might be fun to sit some place and watch the frenetic activity of...cows. But my companion and guide had other ideas. He planned a route through Alsace with activities and the requisite picture-taking. I don't own a camera. I hate souvenirs. Once it's over, it's over. (But I do buy postcards, and sometimes even write them and send them. But that's another story.) We had only one rule: no choucroute. He hates it and since I am lukewarm, I thought it would be funny to go to Alsace and eat around the specialty of that region.

Looking back over the six days spent in Alsace, the d├ępartement called the Bas Rhin, some visual memories stand out: crossing the Rhine River for the first time. The fields of  bright yellow colza in great swaths of color next to squares of green. The steep sides of the hills planted in the grapes that make Riesling and Gerwertstraminer. The 'colombages' timbered little dwellings so quaint, old, and not French but German-looking.

Also a different sort of breakfast: ham, cheese and a very heavy dark bread. The last morning in Riquewihr, Jacky Merius, the proprietor of the hotel, Le Dolder, and the fourth generation of his family to run it, came to chat with us, cheerfully remarking on our good luck with the weather and in answer to our question, explaining that it was still too early for the geraniums that spill from the window boxes giving certain towns the appellation 'ville fleuri,' or 'flowering city.' But those months of flowers also mark a quadrupling in the number of tourists.

I thought of the hours on the road ahead of us. Those fields, the monotony, the radio. His left hand on the wheel, his right hand on my thigh. I looked at the remains of breakfast, and the heavy brass key to our room. A tiny spot of honey had dripped onto the paper tablecloth. I made my way to the car to go back home to Paris.

Postscript: I have left-over postcards from the trip. The photos of the wallpaper in the last blog post were taken of the postcards from the museum by an iPhone. I wrote two postcards to friends in Paris, but somehow they got mislaid and were never mailed. Please stay tuned for "The Postcard Project," a report of my blitz-like postcards-from-Paris experiment.

We stayed at Le Dolder:


ParisBreakfasts said...

I loved Alsace...
I never send the written postcards
Just carry them around till I get back to NYC...
Glad to hear I'm not alone on this is a relief

Souixcity said...

I enjoy your style of writing Grace. It's refreshing and you manage to describe things as if we were sitting together having one of our martini rendevouz. I can hear you laugh.
Tell me about your postcard project!

Ioana Mitu said...

Hello, do you mind telling me what is on at chezgrace during the month of july?
I am writing an article for a Romanian magazine called Premium, the lifestyle supliment of Ziarul Financiar, about secret Paris and i wanted to recommend people to visit you. :-) If possible please reply at
thank you! ps: i can send you a pdf of the magazine if you want to take a look.